Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY) will host an East End community meeting on Monday, October 22nd at 6:00pm at East Hampton High School.
It is with sad news to report that David Hernandez, a 16-year-old East Hampton High School student, committed suicide over a week ago. Reports have surfaced that this suicide was allegedly tied to David being bullied and harassed because of the perception that he was gay. This is a difficult time for David’s family, classmates, friends, and the entire East Hampton community. Gay teen suicide is an epidemic and this most recent suicide hits close to home as it has happened right in our own backyard.
We have been working closely with East Hampton school administration and officials since this tragedy to ensure that support is available for the healing that needs to take place, and to create a plan to move forward in ensuring no other teen, GLBT or heterosexual, feels the need to take their own life.
When a terrible tragedy like this takes place, it is common for people to look for answers. Questions such as “Was he gay?” or “Why didn’t the school stop this?” are ones that have come our way in the past week. These questions are simple and not so simple to answer. The East Hampton School District has been boldly working with LIGALY for more than 17 years to ensure a safe and supportive school community for GLBT youth. East Hampton High School was one of the first in Suffolk County to establish a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club over 10 years ago, and the East Hampton School District is one of a handful on Long Island to have a GSA in its middle school as well. The East Hampton School District is not to blame in this incident. We as a community need to step-up and take responsibility for what we can do to save lives – and save them before it is too late.
Unfortunately, we will never know David’s true sexual orientation as he is no longer with us. What we do know, however, is that David, like all other teens on the East End, do not have a GLBT Center to go to for support and community like those in Western and Central parts of Suffolk County and those in Nassau County. We do know GLBT community centers save lives and it is long past due that the East End community has a Center to call its own and to provide a safe haven for all GLBT teens and their families.
In order to make this Center a reality, there must be an enormous amount of community support and resources. Please join us for a Community Meeting on Monday, October 22nd at 6pm at East Hampton High School where we will remember and honor David and chart a course forward to create an East End GLBT community center that will save lives.
We look forward to you joining us to be part of the solution.